RTÉ Sport analyst David Tubridy believes that Division 2 relegation candidates Limerick, Kildare and Clare will have their character tested to the maximum in what is set to be a crucial round of Allianz Football League fixtures this weekend.
Meath could also be pulled into that particular mire, but with a three-point buffer over sixth-placed Kildare Colm O'Rourke’s troops do have some breathing space.
On Sunday, bottom-placed Limerick host the Lilywhites while earlier in the day, Clare will travel to Owenbeg to face a Derry side that need just a single point to confirm their return to Division 1 football for the first time since 2015.
Speaking on the RTÉ GAA Podcast, Tubridy said that the pressure stakes will be huge when Limerick and Kildare meet with Glenn Ryan’s side aiming to avoid back-to-back relegations and the Tailteann Cup football that could accompany the drop depending on their performance in the Leinster championship.
Limerick are also under the microscope. Last week Ray Dempsey stood down just five months after replacing Billy Lee amidst reports of player unrest, and the former Clare attacker said that the players must respond on the pitch.
"It’s a strange one," Tubridy said of Dempsey’s departure with coach Mark Fitzgerald taking over for the rest of the season.
"The rumours going around are that the players wanted him out. I think it was something similar to Billy Lee as well, that it was kind of the players that said they’d had enough of Billy Lee.
"There’s a lot of pressure on the Limerick players going out this weekend against Kildare because they have to perform because people will be wondering....you can’t be sacking managers every few months and thinking it’s the manager’s fault.
"It’ll be down to the players this weekend, it’s a massive game.
We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
"On Kildare, I think that the two weeks [league break] might help Kildare. You never know, the players and management might hash things out and see what the problems are inside the camp.
"You might see a different Kildare team come out this weekend against Limerick."
On Derry’s game with Clare, Tubridy will travel north with his father to support the team more in hope than expectation, but he does feel that one win from five games is an unjust reward for the Banner County’s performances in the league to date.
Defeat for Colm Collins’ side, whose coach Mark Doran may have some Oakleaf knowledge as the new manager of Slaughtneil, would consign them to relegation if Kildare were to get a winning result at the TUS Gaelic Grounds later in the day.
"I don’t think Clare should be where they are," Tubridy said.
"Probably the game that really caught them was Kildare in Cusack Park, they left that after them big time and that game, for me they would have been safe, they would have been home and hosed.
"They played Dublin the following weekend and Dublin pipped them as well and I think that took a lot out of them going into the Cork game. Watching the game the last day, they were very dead in the second half when they came out against Cork."
We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
Listen to the RTÉ GAA Podcast on the RTÉ Radio Player, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Watch Meath v Dublin (3pm) and Armagh v Galway (5pm) in the Allianz Football League on Saturday on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player and follow a live blog on all matches on RTÉ.ie/sport and RTÉ News app